Burmese police hosted a drug-burning ceremony on Friday morning at a truck terminal in Hlaing Tharyar, in the western suburbs of Rangoon.
The event, which was attended by Rangoon Chief Minister Myint Swe, involved the destruction of massive amounts of heroin, opium, ecstasy, crystal meth, methamphetamine pills. Diazepam, marijuana and natural leaf opiates.
Police say the drugs had a street value of US$155 million.
Burma is the second only to Afghanistan as the highest producer of opium and heroin in the world. It is widely believed that certain ethnic militias in Shan State also manufacture methamphetamines.
Opium production in Burma has been steadily rising despite the government’s stated ambition to eradicate cultivation by 2014. Opium, once a cash crop for poor farmers in the region, has over the years evolved into a political tool that has fueled the black market narco-economy in the region, where historically these drugs have also been the primary source of funding for weapons.
The UNODC in 2013 estimated that 92 percent of poppy cultivation in Burma is in northern Shan State and the remainder is in Kachin State.
A report in October by a Kachin women’s group accused the Burmese military of exacerbating drug abuse in Kachin State and fueling the ongoing conflict in the region by allowing local government-allied Border Guard Forces units to grow and trade opium in exchange for fighting against the Kachin Independence Army rebels.